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Sweating - absent

Definition

An abnormal lack of sweat in response to heat may be harmful, because sweating allows heat to be released from the body. The medical term for absent sweating is anhidrosis.

Alternative Names

Decreased sweating; Anhidrosis

Considerations

Anhidrosis sometimes goes unrecognized until a substantial amount of heat or exertion fails to cause sweating.

Overall lack of sweating can be life-threatening because the body will overheat. If the lack of sweating happens in a small area only, it is usually not as dangerous.

Causes

  • Burns
  • Certain genetic syndromes
  • Certain nerve problems (neuropathies)
  • Congenital disorders including as ectodermal dysplasia
  • Dehydration
  • Neurologic disorders such as Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Skin diseases that block sweat glands
  • Trauma to sweat glands
  • Use of certain drugs

Home Care

If there is a danger of overheating, take a cool shower or sit in a cool bathtub and drink plenty of fluids. Remain in a cool environment. Move slowly during hot weather. Avoid heavy exercise and hot foods.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have a general lack of sweating or an abnormal lack of sweating when exposed to heat or strenuous exercise.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The doctor will perform a physical exam. In emergencies, the health care team will perform rapid cooling measures and give you fluids to stabilize you.

Your doctor may ask questions about your symptoms and medical history. You may be given drugs to cause sweating.

You may be asked to wrap yourself in an electric blanket or sit in a sweatbox while the health care team watches your body's reaction.

A skin biopsy may be done. Genetic testing may be done if appropriate.


Review Date: 5/15/2013
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial Team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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